OXFORD—I was initially nervous about being on Mississippi Public Radio, but my wife kept reminding me that I have the perfect face for radio. So here we are.
Thacker Mountain Radio Hour is a live variety show with music, singing, literature, fun, and Arnie the Magic Chicken who can tell your fortune by lifting his tail feathers and dropping “chicken magic” onto giant bingo cards.
No, I’m only kidding about Arnie the Chicken. Though I wish I weren’t because even a chicken could do a better job on the radio than I can.
Tonight I am in a “time slot.” This is an industry term. A time slot is basically the same as being interrogated by military intelligence personnel while on the air. You speak only when spoken to, give direct answers, and if you talk longer than allotted the stagehands drag you into the alleyway where you are assaulted by a gang of fortune-telling chickens and their ringleader, Arnie.
I am reminded often that I must be BRIEF on the air.
But the thing is, I am never brief, I am the opposite of brief. I am boxer shorts.
During sound check the stage manager with the clipboard is walking me through how things will go. She is extremely clear about this long winded business. She says, “When I hold up three fingers, you’d better be wrapping up, or else.”
“Or else what?” I ask.
“See that red smear on the floor? That was last week’s speaker, he went sixty seconds over.”
Anyway, what I like about Oxford is the relaxed vibe. It’s like many college towns. Ninety percent of the people on the sidewalks are young, energetic, and have no joint pain. These are known as students. The rest of the town population looks like the cast of the 1985 movie “Cocoon.” These are college faculty members.
Rumor has it that most University of Mississippi faculty members looked…